fugitive frequency, season 2, episode 12: Rádio Santos Dumont

Rádio Santos Dumont mise-en-scéne. A white steel gate is in the foreground of a street scene, framing the base of a rounded building. A group of are gathered on plastic chairs an tables in front of a shopfront. A Row of motorcycles is to the left and a white ‘Kombi’ van to their right. The asphalt is wet with rain.

Foto: Gabriel Carnelós 2022

A conversation with Toronto-based radio artist Andrew O’Connor [Instagram] and Todd Lanier Lester one of the founders of Lanchonete.org, an urban research and artist project based around a neighbourhood lunch counter in Conjunto Santos Dumont in central São Paulo.

Late in September 2022, Andrew installed a site-specific radio artwork in the laneway of Conjunto Santos Dumont, based around a series of interviews he conducted with the residents with the assistance of local architect, urbanist and interpreter Gabi Ushida.

On the first weekend of October we collaborated on ‘Rádio Santos Dumont’; a day of workshops, events and performances alongside Merien Rodrigues of Itinero Grapho [Instagram] who runs a mobile printmaking studio and workshops from her Kombi van, and with journalist Amber Cortes, and illustrator Carl Nelson who had traveled from the US to be in Brazil during the presidential elections (2 October). Local musicians Gabriel Edé [Instagram] and Vitor Wutzki [Instagram] contributed a very successful songwriting workshop. Carol Godefroid [Instagram] and Gabriel Carnelós [Instagram] provided live translations (and photodocumentation) and their voices feature in this episode alongside those of Francisco Josepha de Castro AKA Chico and Nadija.

Woven through this episode are excerpts from Andrew O’Connor’s radio installation and edits of a recording of São Paulo-based musician Felinto [Bandcamp] whose performance closed the first day of the event.

Special mention must go to the people of Conjunto Santos Dumont who welcomed us: notably Liduina whose fruit shop was a base for our activities and Tarcisio, whose bar is the base for Lanchonete.org.

fugitive frequency, season 2, episode 11: Coletivo Digital “make open source great again!”

a view of the entrance of coletivo digital in São Paulo. From a distance, four people stand in front of a shop front window. A sign above them reads ‘Coletivo Digital’ and is partially obscured by overhangin trees. A mural with a leaf design is painted on he adjascent wall.

A conversation with Beá Tibiriçá, Wilken Sanches and Hernani Dimantas, the founders of Coletivo Digital [Instagram], an organisation who have been developing software livre, digital integration and open culture in São Paulo for around 20 years. We met on 12 October (a holiday for o dia de nossa senhora aparecida) at Coletivo Digital’s space in the Pinheiros neighbourhood, which serves as a gallery, performance venue and also houses a recording studio that runs on free and open source software. The podcast features the song ‘Canção tem samba’, by Trilha Sonora, which was recorded here.

Our conversation, with translations and contributions by Wagner Miranda [Instagram] occurred after the first presidential elections on 2 October which were inconclusive. A second run-off election had been announced for October 30 and when we met the collective were actively campaigning ‘for democracy’.

Mentioned in our conversation are: Free Software Foundation, Legislation Marco Civil da Internet and LGPD – data protection law Brasil.

A published report of a remarkable project, Redes e Ruas, realised by Coletivo Digital in 2015 can be accessed here.

Many thanks to Merien Rodrigues and Thiago Esperandio for making this recording possible.

fugitive radio rádio em fuga in Brazil 2022 is supported by the Australia Council for the Arts.

rádio contra o trabalho, Instituto Procomum 18–20 outubro

A group of 8 people. In the foreground, 6 of them are seated on wooden chairs with their backs to us. In the background, 2 of them stand before a computer that is placed on a long table.

rádio contra o trabalho do Instituto Procomum transmitir ao vivo quinta-feira 21.10, entre 18-20horas!

rádio contra o trabalho convenes a working group at Instituto Procomum, Santos, São Paulo. Over three consecutive evenings we will collectively explore streaming audio/radio using free, open source or otherwise accessible tools.

I very much appreciate Gustavo, Fabio, Igor, Almir, Fernando and Danielo joining on a chilly rainy evening alongside Calu, our remarkable interpreter.

I first came to Procomum almost exactly four years ago, where I initiated ‘almoço contra o trabalho’ as part of the organisations LabXSantos artist residency program, November 2018. Notably this was right after the presidential election. Here, I was luck enough to meet and collaborate with the very talented Diego Andrade [Instagram] and Victor Sousa [Instagram]. Diego is currently off the radar, nevertheless it was great to reconnect with Victor.

As expected, there have been some technical hiccups. Initially, my laptop went down and refused to reboot. After an anxious afternoon trouble shooting online and visiting a Mac repair agent in Santos, it seems that the problem was with the power source at Procomum. Then as Victor and I attempted to set up a podcast studio computer we were unable to connect to the internet due to a modem problem. ‘This is how it is in the third world’ quipped Victor, shrugging it off. As a work around I sought out free and accessible audio streaming tools that could work on Android devices. As expected, I stumbled on incompatibility issues between apps and platforms. Certainly, this is an issue that fugitive radio emphasises with its interest in radio as a social practice with experimental technology. Nevertheless it remains frustrating! While Gustavo located another modem to bring our computer online, the group decided to investigate Twitch as a popular and accessible streaming tool that could be used during the upcoming Virada Cultural weekend of events in Santos, 22–23 Outubro.

I was taken by the term gambiarra that Danielo used to describe his practice, which I understand as a kind of hacking, adhoc and improvised approach to getting things done and reminds me of what Suva Das described to me as jugaad technology in India. According to artist Giuliano Obici in Gambioluthiery: Hacking and DIY in Brazil [PDF], gambiarra has a distinctly Brazilian twist, related to notions of antropofago and carnevale; reversing “the order of artifacts, serving as a carnivalization of technique, technology and design.” Obici is concerned with musical instruments and sound art practices, proposing that his: “Gambioluthiery reinforces connections between sound and its materiality as well as the paradoxical gaps between advantage and limitations that techno-consumption produces globally.”

fugitive frequency, season 2, episode 10: rádio em fuga, São Paulo

Brazilian politician Marina Silva poses for a camera with a supporter who is clutching a sign declaring "VOTE PELO CLIMA!"

fugitive radio landed in São Paulo, Brazil in the midst of the 2022 presidential election, taking up residence in the Bixiga neighbourhood where it is being hosted by Lanchonete.org at Conjuntos Santos Dumont. This episode of fugitive frequency is a collage of sounds collected around central São Paulo in the days leading up to the October 2 election, which was inconclusive. A run off election is scheduled for 30 October between the two remaining presidential candidates — the incumbent ultra-nationalist Jair Bolsonaro and former-president representing the workers party (PT), Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known simply as Lula.

Music is what first piqued my interest in Brazil when I was teenager. When I was last here, during the 2018 presidential elections, my language tutors would often emphasise that the folk and popular music of Brazil kept a social history of the country that had been a dictatorship for much of its existence and in which illiteracy was still relatively high. As I was making these recordings, I sought to tease out the musicality of the everyday, however listening back I recognised a familiar melody threaded through most of my recordings. “Olé olé-olé olé…” As Marina Marchesan [Instagram] pointed out to me, it is a familiar football chant re-purposed for the iconic statesman Lula. I wonder if any other politician has a catchy jingle, and one that is so readily incorporated into any number of genres? (Out walking one morning I found myself among a Lula blocco in Bixiga where this anthem was impressed into my conscience. Also, kudos to Clarissa Aidar [Instagram] for inviting me to the Pensante Monde blocco carnaval rehearsal soon after where this melody was once again played.)

Melody, and in particular catchy jingles, are a recurring motif of this podcast that captures some of the soundscape/soundclash of this Latin American megacity. Device notifications, arguably jingles of sorts, disrupt the playback of regional pop songs in local bars. Noise—traffic, alarms and the distortion of audio equipment— textures these recordings, sometimes punctuating the sound in amusing ways. In a networked world where we are all ‘prosumers’, people’s reactions to my microphone reveals something about our relationship to audio/media culture, for example when a group of boys break our conversation to speak directly into my microphone.

Language (and translation) emerges as another theme, as at times speakers of português and english overlap. As a português language-learner I certainly don’t understand all that is being discussed, and I’ve found that different strands of information and meaning emerge by listening between languages, sounds and music (I think of discussions around noise/signal/information). For example, early in the podcast is a recording of Marina Silva (main image) addressing a climate justice rally on Friday 23 September via a troublesome sound system. Silva is a politician with Rede Sustentabilidade (Sustainability Network) REDE. She was formerly Environment Minister in Lula’s government (2003–2008), a presidential candidate (2014) and is world renown for her environmental activism. When editing, I often find myself listening to the sound of the recording rather than what is being said; for its musicality or ‘charisma’.

Another section documents a songwriting workshop led Gabriel Edé [Instagram] and Vitor Wutzki [Instagram] for Rádio Santos Dumont, 1 October. Sheltering from the rain in Luduina’s fruit and vegetable shop as other activities, conversations and exchanges continued on around them, Edé and Wutzki’s workshop culminated in the performance of ‘carro e água’ (circa 36 mins) with the local youth: Pitter, Thiago and Gabriel.

Towards the end of the podcast is a recording of Cicero D. Silva and his band busking on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of Avenida Paulista. With the major corridor free of car traffic for some hours, I drifted into this trio of elderly men performing hypnotic music on drum, triangle and piano accordion.

Cicero D. Silva and band busking on Avinida Paulista. Three elderly men in peasnat hats and patterned shirts perform in fron of a metal structure covered in graffiti tags. From left to the right the men play a raound drum, a piano accordian and a triangle. A suitcase is propped open before them for contributions.
Cicero D. Silva and band busking on Avinida Paulista.

Many thanks to the residents of Conjunto Santos Dumont for their hospitality and a special mention to Todd Lanier Lester [Instagram] and Andrew O’Conner [Instagram], the architects of Rádio Santos Dumont.

fugitive radio: rádio em fuga in Brazil is supported by the Australia Council for the Arts.

To make a community radio

Two walls form a corner at the rear of Conjuntos Santos Dumont, São Paulo. A shadowy figure stands with their back to us, affixing posters to the wall.

Rádio Santos Dumont launched on Saturday 17 September 2022. Andrew O’Conner installed FM transmitters located at three different stations along the internal roadway, including in Tarcisio’s bar and Liduina’s fruit and vegetable shop. These are broadcasting interviews Andrew had recorded with residents some months earlier with Gabi Ushida, effectively collecting oral histories of this particular enclave in the megalopolis of São Paulo. Andrew and Todd Lanier Lester from Lanchonte.org had invited Marina and Fernanda of Publication Studio to run a poster-making workshop using stamps to engage with local children. The night before I’d assisted Liduina and her daughter Rosa in making trays of ‘gnocchi’ (made with flour, milk, salt and oil, but not potatoes!).

Two images of an elderly making pasta.  She is wearing a black jacket and jeans, with her hair under a net The first image she is needing the dough. In the second she is displaying a tray full of freshly made gnocchi.

Friends of Lanchonete.org came by during the afternoon, including Carol Godefroid who took photographs and her son Gabriel Carnelós who will also join our upcoming event on October 1 & 2. Todd and I have been out talking to residents and putting up posters promoting the event that alongside Andrew’s radio installation also features: Itinero Grapho’s Kombi printing press, a DIY/DWO percussion instrument making workshop with New York-based documentary film and radio maker Amber Cortes, a songwriting workshop with musicians Gabriel Edé and Vitor Wutzi from São Paulo and BYO t-shirt screen printing that I’m learning via trial and error and will manage on the day with illustrator and animator Carl Nelson, who will also be arriving from New York. There will be music — I’m working on ketchupe dj — and we also hope to make some more recordings on the day around these different activities.

I’ve also been thinking about how this radio intervention — our festa do rádio – is a critical urban practice. There has been some discussion around lumbung radio how online radio occupies and reclaims digital space, with minimal bandwidth and audio formats that don’t demand the same kind of attention as (audio)visual media. fugitive radio often claims that these days ‘everyone has a podcast but who is listening?’. The notion that ‘noone is listening’ shifts fugitive radio’s emphasis on radio making as a social practice with technology rather than as a production task. fugitive radio aligns with Helsinki Open Waves in its interest in migrant voices and with collaborators such as {openradio} and the aforementioned lumbung radio in emphasising open content and using free and open source tools. As such, fugitive radio may not make what by convention constitutes ‘well-produced’ radio content, but rather has made a political decision to work with certain people and technologies. Indeed community-based media in itself could be understood as a critique of corporate media, and especially media monopolies such as Grupo Globo in Brazil.

So how do such ideas arrive in Conjuntos Santos Dumont, where I have only a rudimentary grasp of the language; where I have been introduced to only a handful of people who may not have any interest in or access to such technologies? What is fugitive radio doing here?

Certainly fugitive radio has had an interest in Brazil since it began, inspired by the ‘barraca’ beach bars in Rio and protest sound systems that I experienced when I was here during the last presidential election in 2018. It also makes reference to a recent independent feminist server movement emerging out of Latin America that includes vedetas in São Paulo. Lanchonete.org provides an (urban) art context that fugitive radio has entered into and is continuing its practices that include: field recordings, riddim production, conducting interviews and experimenting with live broadcast formats (such as rádio caminho)… and now simple simple silk screen printing. But what does this mean for the residents of Conjuntos Santos Dumont?

Radio Santos Dumont installs a novel radio infrastructure in the lane that threads through the buildings. While Andrew has interviewed locals and has presented a version of what local radio can do, I wonder how they might also access it; perhaps initially as listeners and also as participants/producers? In short, to make community radio first you need a community…don’t you? So it is striking that none of us involved in initiating Radio Santos Dumont actually live there — indeed we are by-and-large gringos, not even from São Paulo. So is Radio Santos Dumont for the (arts) community who support Lanchonete.org? Certainly it is employing locals (both from the conjunto and the city more broadly), so it might pique some interest in a context where funding for experimental social practices is scarce. So then, will a community of sorts emerge from the task of producing the event?

A hand drawn handbill promoting Radio Santos Dumont, encouraging people to ‘bring their talent’, ‘bring their memories’ and ‘bring a t-shirt’.

I am struck by our efforts to engage residents with our radio intervention. After seeing the Rádio Santos Dumont design conceived by Todd and finalised by Carl and Thiago Correia Gonçalves, I was compelled to make a silk screen, convinced that if I would want it on a t-shirt, so would others. (I recall Todd mentioning that he thought t-shirts might promote a sense of identity for residents, and that differs from its lingering reputation for drug traffic.) Furthermore, Todd printed off a stack of handbills that I am now giving to people I meet in the elevator at 14 Bis. I am renting out a ‘kitchenete’ in this tallest building of the enclave, overlooking the internal laneway — which I’m assured is a quintessential São Paulo experience.

Finally, I must mention the Presidential Elections on October 2, which is arguably the reason so many of us gringos are convening in Conjunto Santos Dumont — to get a sense of what it is like on the ground and to experience what happens during this historical moment. Brazilians are polarised by the presidential candidates, incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and a former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and friends here say they are anxious about the consequences of the election. From what I’ve seen, Conjunto Santos Dumont is no different. While we have not made the elections the focus of Rádio Santos Dumont, it will invariably set the context in which it occurs.

rádio em fuga

A close-up. of Todd Lanier Lester of lanchonete.org putting up a poster promoting Radio Santos Dumont

fugitive radio has arrived in São Paulo where it will be based for the following months. Hitting the ground running, it is currently working with Lanchonete.org and notably its founder Todd Lanier Lester, who is pictured above putting up a poster for our upcoming event, Radio Santos Dumont.

Lanchonete.org is an artist-led cultural platform concerned with Conjunto Santos Dumont, and enclave of three buildings and their occupants that oversee a narrow alley way off Rua Paim in central São Paulo. Designed by engineer Aaron Kogan, construction of the buildings began in 1956. Alberto Santos-Dumont (1873-1932) was an aeronaut and inventor. A contemporary of the Wright brothers, the buildings that comprise the Conjunto are named after aeroplanes he designed: Desmoiselle, 14 Bis and Caravelle. The 4000 or so occupants of the 1097 apartments have a link to the North-East of Brazil, and Todd describes it as the largest group of North-Easterners living together in São Paulo.

Engineer Aaron Kogan’s rendering of Conjunto Santos Dumont, a residential enclave of three modernist residential buildings in central São Paulo.
A formal rendering of Conjuncto Santos Dumont designed by Aaron Kogan. Sourced from Lanchonete.org.

Toronto-based artist Andrew O’Conner has been developing a radio installation here in recent months. Based around interviews with locals he will present an oral history of the community. Now together with Lanchonete.org and its partners, notably Tarcisios’ bar and also Merien Rodrigues of Itinero Grapho and Publication Studio São Paulo, fugitive radio is working towards an event I’m describing as a mini festa do rádio. Radio Santos Dumont will occur on Saturday 1 October with broadcasts spilling over into the following day with. More details to follow.

fugitive radio’s programme in Brazil, rádio em fuga, is generously supported by the Australia Council for the Arts. Muito obrigados a Kadija de Paula for introducing me to Lanchonete.org.

fugitive frequency, season 2, episode 9: ‘Story of the Storyteller’ / ‘Buy 1 Free 1’

A scene in Chowkit market, Kuala Lumpur. An old mad sits behind a keyboard labelled ‘TECHNO’, under a large umbrella. A woman with her back to us looks on, another man walks past.

This month’s podcast is not one, but two:

‘Story of the Storyteller’
An audio fanzine about Agus Nur Amal PMTOH [Instagram], an artist and storyteller from Aceh Indonesia. He employs a ‘Tri Tangtu’ way of thinking that combines rationalism and spiritualism. Drawing on tradition and child-like imagination he has developed a unique form of object theatre. Our interview was recorded during the opening days of documenta fifteen, June 2022, at his exhibition at Grimmwelt Kassel.

Media




‘Buy 1 Free 1’
An audio travelogue/proto-riddim mixtape, featuring music, musicians, friends and recordings of events made traveling through Sri Lanka and Malaysia in July and August.

In Kuala Lumpur, the artist Sau Bin Yap [Facebook] suggested I search for bunga telang (butterfly pea blue flower) at Pasar Chowkit. Browsing a spice stall, I heard a DJ Slow Bass mix and was struck by DJ Acan’s Koplo take on ‘Joko Tingkur’.

Tharagai is a young KL-based rapper who I came across via Rap Porkalam, a TV talent show fostering Tamil rap in Malaysia. My cousin Prem, who works as a producer on the show, claims the music phenomenon burst forth from KL’s underground hip hop scene.

Search-engining for more I got hooked in by ‘Namma Aalu’, a shopping centre sponsored Deepavali ‘anthem’ by Roshan Jamrock, Yunohoo and Arvinder Raina. You can hear a snippet before being transported to Kuala Lumpur’s famous Sri Maha Mariamman Temple. I did try to interview the temple musicians G Mohan (Tavil) and Samugam (Nagaswaram) from Chennai, but after an afternoon’s work they more interested in lunch than a chat … and besides my Tamil ist nicht sehr gut!

Cut to a recording of the so-called ‘Nine Gods’ ritual I walked into near Pataling Jalan, while out with a friend Amalen. You can hear Amalen’s commentary during this season of ancestors and ghosts, before the night took a dramatic turn. It’s not in the mix, so for the record: I witnessed Amalen and two young holidaying nurses we met save a man’s life! Even more surreal was that their extraordinary efforts to keep him breathing as his anxious companions sought to bring an ambulance into the blocked-off alley were perfectly timed to the ritual playing out around us.

The mix is interspersed with reworkings and mashups of the productions mentioned above. In particular is a remix of ‘Metal Walk’ riddim by Dinoj Mahendran [Instagram] made during our Thaalam Riddim Reapers workshop during Dinacon 3. I intend to push this riddim further, so expect more to come.


Moving in reverse, the travelogue ends at DreamSpace Academy Batticaloa on the final days of Dinacon. This is where I learned of Sandaru Sathsara, the Sri Lankan-born viral YouTube singer. Bruce and Bruce who manage the DreamSpace cafe towards the end, get in the last word.

fugitive frequency, season 2, episode 8: Dinacon@DreamSpace – Kishoth Navaretnarajah

A photo of a stencil sprayed wooden board announcing Dinacon 2022 at DreamSpace Academy in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka.

This episode was made during Dinacon 3 Digital Naturalism Conference in July 2022, hosted by DreamSpace Academy — a grass roots organisation focused on peace building through challenged-based learning, innovation and impact venture building in Batticaloa Sri Lanka.

It features an interview with DreamSpace Academy co-founder Kishoth Navaretnarajah (Instagram), alongside the voices of other Dinacon ‘dinasaurs’ including founder Andrew Quitmeyer (Instagram) and Hannen Wolfe. There are also snatches of speeches delivered by DreamSpace Academy co-founder Aravinth Panch (Instagram) and co-director Anna Jeyaraj Moses.

I must make special mention of DreamSpace’s Music Lab, organised by Prasanna
Sivagnanam and Dinoj Mahendranathan where I focused my time. Extra special thanks extends to all who participated in the many spontaneous jam sessions and singalongs, whose voices also make a significant contribution to this episode.

‘Metal Walk Riddim’ is a new track made by Dinoj Mahendranathan building on the Thaalam Riddim Reapers workshop devised in collaboration with Lucinda Dayhew (Instagram), Brendy Hale (Instagram) and delivered with contributions from Ashlin Aronin (Instagram).

fugitive frequency, season 2, episode 7: lumbung in the air

A street parade through the streets of Kassel. A photographer dressed in black is in the foreground, their back turned towards us.

lumbung in the ‘air’ (a pun on the Bahasa Indonesia word for water) is an anachronistic mix-tape of musical moments recorded during the opening days of documenta fifteen in Kassel Germany, 15 –20 June 2022.

Curated by the Jakarta-based collective ruangrupa, documenta fifteen is concerned with lumbung, the Indonesian word for a communal rice-barn where surplus rice is stored for the benefit of the community. Lumbung was adopted as a practice by the documenta organisers pursuing alternative economies of collectivity, shared resource building and equitable distribution. fugitive radio has become part of the lumbung ekosistem through the lumbung radio / station of commons platform.

The podcast features in order of appearance (Instagram links):
Agus Nur Amal PMTOH
Gudskul participants
Imane Zoubai and members of LE 18
Rampak Genteng organised by Jatiwangi art Factory for New Rural Agenda
Black Quantum Futurism
La Intermundial Holobiente
Nhà Sàn Collective
Thy Lab
Thierry Geoffroy AKA Colonel
Protesters and performers at the ‘Rally Against Defamation – Solidarity with Ruangrupa’, 18 June
Ghetto Biennale with Robert N Peyre, Jean Louis Huhta AKA Dungeon Acid and Jean Claude Saintilus
Irreversible Entanglements
Performers at Fondation Festival sur le Niger’s Maaya Bulon and Tea Ceremony, 18 June